Bridging Opportunities

I joined the Pratt Institute Design Management Masters Program, because they are globally recognized for their innovation and providing a platform that encourages creativity. My educational background was not in design, but I was a designer. I wanted to shape that creative leadership element. The Design Management Program objective is to allow their students to thrive within their designs  while creating sustainable methods that can be replicated in communities appropriately.

Our capstone project is titled, “Bridging Opportunities”. Our mission is to provide income generating activities to the women within the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania and their coffee industry by connecting them to resources and opportunities within their communities. Our project is made up of five representatives from diverse backgrounds and international (Tanzania, Haiti, Thailand, India, and South Korea) female entrepreneurs with a interest in community development.

One of the key motivators of our capstone project was besides having a team member familiar with culture and region is that Tanzania had similarities of other developing countries with rich resources and commodities, and women unable to fully benefit from their initiatives. Selecting the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania as the site of our capstone was inspirational to me. Not only is it home of the highest mountain in the continent of Africa, or rich with natural resources, but home to my tribe. Kilimanjaro is my home. Swahili is my culture. I was fortunate to collaborate, travel and work alongside with my Pratt peers, that understood the impact that we would be making within the community.

We were collectively awarded a Pratt Institute Graduate Student Engagement Fund grant for our efforts of community development and workshop. The project was able to obtain two partnerships, the International Women’s Coffee Alliance chapter in Tanzania and the Tanzania Women in Coffee Association. Our workshop is designed to utilize methods from our professional experiences and various courses from the Pratt Institute Design Management Masters Program. With research and needs and attitude assessment surveys our three day workshop focused on Marketing, Finances, and Writing Grant Proposals. Those methods are designed to strengthen entrepreneurs and independent businesses through management and understanding their target audiences.

Our collective effects of workshop did not go unrecognized and was highlighted in several Tanzanian national news coverage for our work during March, for Women’s History Month. Some of the leaders of the Tanzania Women in Coffee Association discussion our initiatives to government representatives at the Annual National Coffee Stakeholders Conference. In the future, we would love to have partnership with the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA), and possibly assist in “Bridging Opportunities” globally. Since the IWCA have an additional twenty-one international chapters, that our benefit with our design education workshops.

- Waridi Valentine
Visit us: https://prattbridgingopportunities.squarespace.com

Waridi Valentine